My experience with Operation Christmas Child

Last night I was a Christmas Elf. Remember my post about “Weihnachten im Schuhkarton“? Today was the day when Operation Christmas Child happened and I handed in my package. Also my sister and I volunteered to help get the packages ready for shipping. Let me give you an inside story of what I’ve learnt and a peek behind the scenes.

shoebox for operation christmaschild

Already in October I set out to fill my shoebox and get little gifts. It was actually a lot of fun shopping for a kid as I never really do and there are some weed things to get. This was in my shoebox:

shoebox items for operation christmaschild

As I said volunteered by helping in the “Christmas Workshop”. In Germany there are two locations (Berlin & Birkenfeld/Pforzheim) where all packages will be checked, sealed and distributed to the countries. We had a 15 min training session with a video and then we were sent to our packing stations. All packing stations had team leader who we could ask all our questions. At the table there were 4 positions.

  1. checking box for label boy/girl, envelopes with money, writing was appropriate
  2. checking items if they comply with guide lines and custom requirements.
  3. sealing the package
  4. putting shoeboxes into logos packages, labelling, sealing and dropping off at warehouse

We quickly combined 1 & 2 as the workflow was better that way and the shoeboxes didn’t get too messed up.

operation christmas child Weihnachten im Schuhkarton Weihnachtswerkstatt Berlin

My job was to check items in the boxes. I made a list of things I learnt and what is helpful for people checking the boxes:

  • Most people pack for the middle age group 5-9 years. Then 2-4 and the teenagers 10-14 had the least packages.
  • Make sure shelf-life is end of March following year. We had to remove all candy that didn’t apply. Sometimes leaving a package having no candy at all. We were able to fill that up with donated items. This is due to custom relations.
  • If you pack candy, always insert full packages. Single candy bars, small gummy bear packages, bonbon, etc. we had to check every single item. Sometimes that was 30 little pieces which takes forever. All items without minimal shelf-life needed to be removed.
  • It’s helpful if the letters are on the top not the bottom so the box doesn’t need to be unpacked entirely.
  • Don’t wrap the present. We had to unwrap them if we couldn’t guess what was in there.
  • No soap bubbles as it’s too dangerous – kids might drink it.
  • Wrap shower gel/shamppo in a bag. We had to do that to a loooot of items. Also some already came in damaged.

Most of the boxes had really nice ideas and items in them. Every once in a while there was a box that was just so sad – only half filled, old/used/damaged stuff. There were boxes I dumped completely in the garbage. I wonder what people think. But most of them were really fun and gave me ideas for the next year:

  • snow boots and slippers
  • vest
  • musical instruments (xylophone, harmonica, claves)
  • earrings
  • nailpolish
  • purses
  • watches
  • pacifier

packages for operation christmaschild

We were there for 4 hours and we were around 50 people working. At the end of the shift we managed to sent over 3,000 shoeboxes on its way. The goal this year is 100.000 boxes. If you live in Berlin (or Pforzheim) and feel like helping there are lots of open spots to sign up.

If you are not close enough to volunteer you could still pack a shoebox online. Or just donate a bit to run the operation.

Maybe I find time to help again this year. Otherwise I will pack another box next year. Have you every participated? Or do you support another organisation? Would love to hear about it.

Happy Sunday,

Tobia

Disclaimer: This post contains links to the Operation Christmas Child. Due to current (German) law this needs to be labelled advertising. However I was not paid to talk about it, I just think it’s a nice little project to do. Furthermore I have linked a few of my older articles because I believe you might enjoy them. Some of the photos were taken by berlinmittekind.

Advent Wreath Inspiration

Who else is busy thinking about this years advent wreath? I usually ponder I ideas already when most people enjoy their summer vacay at the pool. I have to be honest, this year my picture is not that clear. When I don’t know what direction to go I usually just look at my Pinterest board ” Usually the first thing that I know if the color scheme of the new wreath. This might happen when I see certain candles or just some decoration that speaks to me. My moms wreath this year will be gold/brown/nude.

Following I want to share some advent wreath inspiration.

pine needle advent wreath | adventskrank aus nadeln

This pine needle advent wreath (tutorial) probably took the longest from all the ones I did. I love the look of it.

A minimalistic version is the French Knitted Wreath (tutorial).

walnut wreath tutorial by craftaliciousme

A nature inspired one with the Walnut Advent Wreath (tutorial).textile advent wreath made of sweaterThis wreath was created of an old favorite sweater.

 

advent wreath muffin liner

A wreath made of Muffin Liners. Took a lot of glue but its hanging in my apartment for many years.

moss advent wreath

Here is an idea on how to create a moss wreath.

One of my Favourites is this Snowball Wreath (tutorial). Just never leave it burning unattended.

simple pine needle wreath | krank aus Tannennadeln

Door wreath made of Pine Needles.

What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

Happy inspiration,

Tobia

Scented Wall Hanging { RECYCLE QUICK TIP #11 }

My favorite season is slowly but steadily coming closer and today I want to share a quick and easy tutorial with you. It’s a Scented Wall Hanging made of orange peel. Because now is the time to eat lots of vitamins and so we’ve got peels to recycle. And it is a good way to slowly start decoration for Advent without overdoing it.scented christmas decoration

All you need for this craft idea is some oranges or mandarines, a cookie cutter of your preference and some yarn.

Instructions are just that easy:

  1. Eat your oranges and saves the peel.
  2. Get out your cookie cutter and cut away.
  3. Thread them together. I did pairs of three. Then I strung them on a wooden piece.

scented christmas decoration hangingWell and that is about it. Easy and fun little crafting for in-between on a rainy afternoon.

If you like crafts with recycled materials my little eerie “Recycling Quick Tip” might be fun to check out. And if you have any fun and easy craft ideas let me know in the comments please.

Happy recycling,

Tobia

 

Christmas tree decorating habits

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Lot’s of people have there Christmas tree already put up. In Germany maybe not als long as in the US. In my family the tree was brought to the house late on the 23rd or in the morning of Christmas Eve. For us it has always been a real tree. And those need to unfold a bit before being decorated.

When I grew up my mom used to decorate the tree. Usually after she was done with preparations in the kitchen and when my dad took over to prepare his part of the Christmas dinner. (but that is a story for another day.) We children didn’t get to see the tree until Christmas Eve after church. What was usually early evening.

Our tree was rather traditional with some silver balls, wooden toys, straw stars and some chocolate rings with sprinkles (who knows which ones I mean?!). Also there were some more wrapped chocolate figurines. And we had real candles. We had the tradition of undecorating the tree after New Years when we were allowed to pick one of the candies daily from the tree.

I do not know how long this practices lasted. There was a year when I had an idea for a different decorated tree and suggested it to my mom. That was the year when tradition changed and my mom and I started to decorate it together. The “new” tree was decorated mainly by natural things: dried fruits, pinecones, nuts, cinnamon sticks, star anise and such. What we kept was the real candles. Instead of the Christmas balls we used apples. My parents still do that and when I spent Christmas with them, that is the tree I am seeing. And often it is still my “chore” to decorate.

natural christmas treeTo be honest I can hardly remember the first version of the tree and I doubt my little sister knows we once had a different tree.

As you can see the concept of changing up the Christmas decoration yearly as some people do is rather foreign to me – not that I don’t admire that.

So it comes to no surprise that in my own home and with my own tree I also follow the same theme year in and year out. My tree now is always silver and white. Over all it is a rather simple version of a tree. It all starts with white and silver balls. (We received those as a wedding gift by my aunt to be always reminded of snow. I thought that was one great gift.) And then I add my real candles. I have never had a tree with electric lights and wouldn’t even know how to get them on there. In the first years I created one new ornament every year and added them to the tree. I am now at a point were I do have enough and can’t hang all. I do collect some cute little ornaments like my silver bells or my little pottery trees.

white silver christmas treeSince we are usually spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with family I decorated my tree on the 23rd. But I will not light candles before Christmas. It just doesn’t feel right.

I usually take down the tree around January 6th. Often I am a bit lazy though. Because one disadvantage of using real candles is that it will make a huge mess. I have to clean all my glass balls and the candle holders and often the floor. It’s not done in an hour. But it is worth all the trouble to me.

The whole tree decorating business is quite different with everyone. I know a lot of people who do it like I have done all my life and the tree is only being put up Christmas Eve. But I feel like in recent years the trees are being decorated earlier and earlier. Some beginning of Advent some when ever it suits.

I got a real cultural shock when I spent my year in the U.S. and was rather perplex when right after Thanksgiving Dinner a big box was open, a fake Christmas tree unfolded and ornaments put up. It was so weird seeing the tree 5 weeks leading to Christmas. What I really enjoyed though was all the presents being collected underneaths. I liked that tradition a lot and adopted that. What really blew my mind though was when Christmas Day right after everyone open the presents the big box was put out again and the tree put back in the attic. I was really dumbfounded with that. For me Christmas was just beginning and here my host family was done with it. If someone asks me I often say that I didn’t really had a Christmas in 1999.

It is so interesting how everyone is having so different traditions and rituals. So if you have a few minutes to spare please let me know how your tree looks like and when you are putting it up.

Wishing you a wonderful Merry Christmas and the best of times with all your loved ones,

Tobia

Little Beech Nut Bells in Red and White – Tutorial

creative DIY_beech nut bells decoration

Yes, I think the Holiday Season has started for me. Today I want to share another tutorial for this those cute beech nut bells in red and white with you.

I really don’t know how I came up with the idea. I think I was talking one of my walks through the park or my favorite cemetery and just saw those beech nuts lying all around on the ground. Don’t they look like little calyx or bells? And then weeks later I was shopping and came across those festive little red bells.

 

Suddenly a picture popped up in my mind and I just had to do it. But let me tell you. It is not that easy to find beech nuts early in November. They were hiding right under all the wet leaves. Of course I had to go hunting for them when it was drizzling and muddy.

Anyhow I did found some. I put them on the radiator to dry and to open them up a bit more. The rest was pretty simple.

creative DIY_beech nut bells tutorial

  1. I painted the beech nut white. I used regular acrylic paint.
  2. Got my little bell.
  3. I used silver wire and made an eyelet on one end (for the bell) and a knot on the other end.
  4. I painted the wire a hot red with nail polish as I think it looks better.
  5. I assembled the wire and the bell.
  6. I heated up the glue gun and gave a good amount of glue in the beech nut and stuck the wire knot in it. Sometimes I had to adjust the length a bit so it looked good. I just wrapped a bit more wire around the know until I liked it.
  7. I glued some ribbons on as well. If I do it again I might choose white and smaller ones but hey it is very festive and Holiday like.

creative DIY_beech nut bells detail

What do you think? Would you hang them on your tree? I would. Maybe not red and white but white and silver (who would have thought HAHA).

Happy crafting,

Tobia

linked to creadienstag | Dienstagsdinge | Handmade on Tuesday | MMI | Freutag | Weihnachtszauber

MerkenMerken

MerkenMerken

MerkenMerken